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How to make your Laptop’s Touchpad work better in Firefox

After you’ve learned all the main keyboard shortcuts, it’s time to make your laptop touchpad work as great in Firefox as you do.

Most laptop trackpads use Synaptics touchpad drivers. This tutorial will teach you how to configure your trackpad’s settings to maximise efficiency when using Firefox. [photo by pzado]

Get to the settings

Go to Control Panel, then open Mouse, and click the Device Settings tab. Click “Settings…”.

Make sure you Enable Tap Zones, under the Tapping > Tap Zones item.

This will enable your touchpad to accept special commands if you click one of the 4 corners.

Switch tabs using Tap Zones

Wouldn’t it be great if you just tapped the top right corner to go to the next tab? Or the top left corner to go the previous tab?

Difficulty Level: Medium to easy

  1. Click the plus sign next to the Tap Zones item. Click Top Right Action.
  2. From the list, choose Record and play a sequence of keystrokes.
  3. Hit Configure

In the prompt that appears, enter the following:
{CONTROL_DN}{TAB}{CONTROL_UP} This will tell it to press Ctrl+Tab every time you hit the top right corner of your trackpad. Useful for switching tabs in Firefox!

To do the opposite when you hit the top left corner, do this:

  1. Click Top Left Action
  2. As before, choose Record and play a sequence of keystrokes.
  3. Hit Configure

In the prompt, enter:

Extra: Enable middle-clicking

Everybody knows that a middle-click will open a link in a new tab. It’s a great time saver.

To enable this functionality in your touchpad,

  1. Select either one of the bottom corners
  2. Select Middle click from the list

That’s a wrap. Hope this tutorial (and this one) will help make you more productive in Firefox!

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Use Keyboard Shortcuts to be more Efficient in Firefox

Browsing the web, especially on a laptop, is frequently bogged down by inefficient practices.

Besides often having a patchy Wi-Fi connection, you don’t want your browsing experience to be slowed down by the inefficiency of a laptop’s trackpad.

Use a keyboard as much as possible.

Here are some quick keyboard shortcuts to make using Firefox on a laptop faster (at least on Windows).

Learn the keyboard shortcuts

  • Ctrl+T opens a new tab
    Shift+Ctrl+T re-opens a closed tab
  • Ctrl+F4 or Ctrl+W closes a tab
  • Ctrl+Tab switches to the next tab
    Shift+Ctrl+Tab switches to the previous tab
  • F5 or Ctrl+R reloads a page
    Ctrl+F5 refreshes the cache and reloads
  • F6 or Ctrl+L highlights the location bar
    Ctrl+K highlights the searchbar

And 3 mouse & keyboard tricks:

  • Ctrl+Click opens the link in a new tab
  • Shift+Click opens the link in a new window
  • Alt+Click downloads the link to your desktop

After you learn these, you can learn how to make your laptop’s touchpad work better in Firefox.

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Safari 4 beta arrives, is fast, but still not the fastest (review & screenshots)

Apple have made waves with a tentative update to Safari, their internet browser, pushing it up to Safari 4 beta.

Despite its beta label, the excitement surrounding it has been huge, with multiple blogs posting first-looks and reviews. Here’s my quick review and screenshot tour.

GUI / Appearance

First off, kudos to Apple for working hard to make it look a little more like a native Windows application. It has standard Windows-controls up top for minimise, close, etc. It now finally looks like it belongs on Microsoft’s OS.

Apple have made the decision to use standard Windows font rendering by default, meaning most users won’t be taken aback by Apple’s blurred font rendering (you can blur your fonts again by going to preferences).

Interface: Chrome-inspired, only sleeker

The interface itself reminds me a lot of Google Chrome.

Some parts are a complete ripoff – except that Safari has more visual polish and sleekness than Google’s browser.

Take a look at the new, top-mounted tabs (top is Chrome, bottom is Safari):

… and the similar side buttons:

… and the “Top Sites” page, borrowed from Chrome (and made pretty by Apple):



The tabs are now top-mounted, just like in Chrome. Combining the title-bar and the tab-bar makes perfect sense, and makes great use of space.

The open tab is a little larger than the ones around it, and this helps give it prominence. Favicons aren’t shown in the tab/title bar and this is a little annoying.

Two things annoyed me. Tab reordering is controlled by these little grab-things on the sides of the tabs, which requires unnecessary mouse movement.

The other thing that annoyed me was that a middle-click doesn’t close tabs, it treats it like a normal click (i.e. switches to that tab). I’m too lazy to move my mouse to the close button, so fix it Apple!

Overall tab control is fine – not quite as good as Chrome’s, but much better than Firefox’s. Naturally you can tear them off to make new windows, just like in Safari 3.


  • Feels about as fast as Chrome at loading pages.
  • If it has a chance to cache the page first, it makes a huge difference.
  • Starts up very quickly, but still not as quickly as Chrome.
  • Firefox takes an age to start up after switching on, but it’s handicapped by me, since it has around 12 extensions running.

Overall it’s very, very snappy

But my testing (using timers and everything) shows it’s still not as fast as the current benchmark, Google Chrome.

Chrome bested its performance on every count, including: page load times, start up time,  memory handling, and others.

I wasn’t impressed by…

The bookmark/history coverflow. For how I work, it just isn’t useful. But more eye-candy is always nice.

The lack of an import bookmarks function. This was present in Safari 3 so I can’t imagine why Apple left it out. (I just didn’t see it, it’s under the File menu, accessible by pressing Alt).

The constant crashing. I saw a lot of this:

It’s pretty serious, as it happens every few seconds or so. Even though for some reason it doesn’t appear to do very much. The program rarely actually closes when you choose either of these two options.

The lack of an extensions platform. It’s been missing for a while and Safari isn’t the only offender.

But seriously, Firefox pretty much wrote the book on extensions, and it’s the deal-killer that means I will stick with the Fox for a while longer.

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Open “Run as Administrator” Faster in Vista Using a Keyboard Shortcut

Just a quick post highlighting a trick that makes life a little more convenient.

We all know that certain programs need to be run as an administrator from time to time. This is normally a fairly simple affair, right-click and click “Run as Administrator”.

Time Saver

However if you want to save that extra second of time, hold down the Shift & Ctrl keys and click on the program directly. You’re welcome.

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How to Enable Emoji Icons, for free, and without Jailbreaking your iPhone

The Emoji icons are a cute, Japanese-style set of emoticons. This will help you enable them on your iPhone, but they will also work on the iPod Touch.

All iPhones and iPod Touches are perfectly capable of displaying them, but iPhones outside of Japan are not able to access this feature by default.

To display them, you normally had to either: buy a $0.99 app, or go through the tedious process of jailbreaking.

1. Download Spell Number from App Store

This is a free application available from the App Store. You might as well download it straight to your device.

It’s creator, Water Lou, makes no attempt to hide the fact that his application is capable of enabling Emoji icon use in all other apps.

2. Enter the number 9876543.21

The purpose of the app is indeed to spell out numbers for use in checks, etc. So go ahead and enter the number Nine Million Eight Hundred Seventy-six Thousand Five Hundred Forty-three dollars and Twenty-one Cents, i.e. 9876543.21

3. Enable Emoji from Settings and you’re done

You can now exit the app. Go to Settings, General, go down to Keyboard, International Keyboards, and finally select Japanese from the long list. Inside the Japanese sub-menu you can enable the Emoji set of icons.

You’re now ready to go. The icons will work in any place that your normal keyboard does, just click the new globe icon on the keyboard to switch between Emoji and your normal keyboard.


They work in Notes, Mail, and basically everywhere, even SMS.

But watch out, because they can only be read by iPhones and iPod Touches. Other phones cannot read them, and not even a mail application on a computer can read them – even though the Mail app can handle them just fine. [Apple iPhone Apps]

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